A startup could launch China's first-ever reusable rocket next year

Galactic Energy has shown off its Pallas 1 rocket in a triple-booster configuration resembling SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket.
Chris Young
Galactic Energy's Ceres 1 at launch.
Galactic Energy's Ceres 1 at launch.

Galactic Energy / Wang Jiangbo 

Chinese startup Galactic Energy is gearing up to launch its reusable Pallas 1 rocket, which it hopes will make it the third company in the world to launch reusable rockets and the first in China.

The company's Falcon 9-like Pallas 1 will be capable of carrying 11,000 lbs (5,000 kilograms) of payload to low Earth orbit, according to Galactic Energy's website.

As a point of reference, SpaceX's workhorse Falcon 9 rocket has the capacity to lift roughly 50,000 lbs to low Earth orbit.

Could Galactic Energy be China's answer to SpaceX?

Galactic Energy was founded in 2018. The private space firm developed its own proprietary Cangqiong kerosene-liquid oxygen engine, which it will use to power Pallas 1.

It also successfully developed and launched a light solid-fueled rocket called Ceres 1. That rocket first took to the skies in November 2020 and has performed five successful launches in total.

Galactic Energy hopes to go to the next level with its liquid-propellant Pallas 1 rocket, a Space.com report reveals. The rocket is designed to be reusable via propulsive landing technology similar to the one developed by SpaceX for its iconic Falcon 9 landings.

U.S.- and New Zealand-based Rocket Lab has also recovered rockets for reuse. However, it is developing a different method, which relies on plucking rocket boosters out of the sky using helicopters.

Galactic Energy raised $200 million last year

In a recently-released video clip, Galactic Energy has shown off the rocket body for the Pallas 1 at the company's facility.

The company also demonstrated three of the boosters strapped together with one upper stage in a similar fashion to SpaceX's massive Falcon Heavy rocket. The three-booster version is expected to launch after Pallas 1 has taken to the skies.

Last year, Galactic Energy raised $200 million to develop its Pallas 1 launch system. The company faces competition from other Chinese rocket companies, including Space Pioneer, which became the first startup in the world to reach orbit on its first try when it launched its Tianlong-2 rocket on April 2.

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